Think the public communication climate has soured? John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, decidedly agrees and, on The Huffington Post, has some suggestions for reversing the trend.
Mackey's opening perspective sounds pretty dire: "American society appears to be undergoing a crisis in trust....Indeed, I do not believe it is an exaggeration to claim that our society is actually undergoing a disintegration process whereby the fundamental premises and values supporting our institutions are all being called into question."
But in "disintegration," says Mackey, "is also a tremendous opportunity for genuine transformation." U.S. society is going to pot, but there's an up side. Basically, says Mackey, organizations have to start acting as though they want to be trusted again.
"Our governments all too frequently serve the politicians and the public service unions rather than their citizens. Our schools too often serve their educational bureaucracy and teachers' unions instead of their students and their parents. Our health care system too often seeks to maximize the profits of pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, doctors, and insurance companies rather than the health and wellness of patients. Many of our corporations primarily exist to maximize the compensation of their executives, and secondarily shareholder value, rather than value creation for customers, employees, and other major stakeholders."
Most of us can probably recognize truth in this. It's changing the underlying dynamics that's challenging. Mackey urges organizations to start by discovering or rediscovering their higher purposes, including "such timeless ideals" as:
The Good: Service to others... like Southwest Airlines, Nordstroms, The Container Store, Amazon.com, and Joie de Vivre Hospitality
The True: Discovery and furthering human knowledge...like Google, Intel, Genentech, and Wikipedia
The Beautiful: Excellence and the creation of beauty...like Apple and Berkshire Hathaway
The Heroic: Courage to do what is right to change and improve the world...like Grameen Bank and the Gates Foundation
Before you dismiss much of this as pap, read all of what Mackey has to say and consider that the overall communication climate really has gotten pretty pejorative and self-centered. It's not a healthy juncture.